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Guy who only knows about a cappella from Pitch Perfect attends Study Break:

"When are they all gonna throw up?"

By Dominominic Haunches


Illustration by Maia Hadler

On March 14th, 2023, Oberlin’s five esteemed a cappella groups descended upon the Science Center’s Dye Lecture Hall to treat the gathered audience to an assemblage of auditory delights. Nothing But Treble, Pitch Please, Round Midnight, the Acapelicans, and the Obertones performed an assortment of various and sundry tunes, ranging from ‘70s staples to contemporary crowd-pleasers—and boy, was the crowd pleased!

But for sophomore Coin O’Toss, the overall takeaway from Study Break was a gnawing, deep-seated confusion. He later recounted in a tone of bafflement: “I just kept wondering: ‘when are they all gonna throw up?’”

O’Toss, 19, of Lansing, Michigan, says that he rarely encountered a cappella growing up. “My high school didn’t have a group,” he said. “I didn’t even know what it was until I saw Pitch Perfect.”

O’Toss recalls seeing Pitch Perfect for the first and only time at a middle school slumber party. “I had had a lot of sodapop, I think, and I wasn’t paying a huge amount of attention. I don’t really remember any singing or anything. The only thing I remember is just, like, so much vomit.”

In Jason Moore’s 2012 film Pitch Perfect, group leader Brittany causes her a cappella group, the Barden Bellas, to lose an a cappella competition by projectile vomiting into the audience. The 2012 film Pitch Perfect shows this event in excruciating detail.

“I mean, really, that’s what I thought a cappella was all about,” O’Toss says. “That’s how they won that competition. What do you mean, they lost? They lost? Like, the whole thing?”

Despite everyone’s chuck remaining safely un-upped, O’Toss says he enjoyed Study Break and is looking forward to the next one. “It wasn’t what I was expecting, that’s for sure. But there’s clearly a lot of skill and talent going on there, and it was cool to see.”

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